In Austin, TX, we can go on and on about Mexican food, Tex Mex and Traditional Mex alike. Try throwing a stone and having it not hit a taco truck or Mexican restaurant. It’s pretty darn tough! As most of these are new establishments are serving cutting edge new twists on Mexican, there are a slim few that retain the traditional magic of our neighbor down South. Fonda San Miguel is Austin’s award-winning interior-style Mexican restaurant that’s widely recognized for its exquisite and authentic Mexican cuisine and an extensive collection of intricate art. Opened in 1975, it’s unarguably an Austin institution, owned by Tom Gilliland and Miguel Ravago and celebrating its 40th anniversary this year!
Considered by many as “Austin’s most beautiful restaurant,” owner Tom Gilliland’s collection of museum-quality artwork, exotic plants, and international décor complete the exquisite dining experience. The interior invokes feelings of sitting in a tropical Mexican hacienda, with colorful textiles and rich history behind every piece of art. The beautiful bar is a must-stop for a cocktail before dinner, and the entire restaurant has a magical feel to it. Fonda has some of the friendliest service you can find, and don’t be surprised if you leave with new friends. The restaurant pioneered “interior Mexican” cuisine in the U.S. being one of the first in the nation to introduce the full-flavored and more complex specialties from Mexico’s interior regions. Fonda San Miguel is a celebration of this distinctive cuisine, its colorful history, and the transforming influence it has had on Mexican restaurants across the country, where culinary connoisseurs, art lovers, visiting celebrities, and guests of the local Mexican consulate all come to partake and enjoy.
The menu is where the restaurant truly shines. Featuring authentic and timeless recipes, the quality is unmatched. What’s even more special is that founders Tom Gilliland and Miguel Ravago along with former Austin Chronicle Food Editor, Virginia B. Wood have put together a cookbook featuring more than 100 of the restaurant’s traditional recipes over the years. Sometimes there’s those nights when you just don’t want to battle with the traffic in the city, so why not share the magic of the restaurant with family and friends by taking your own crack at the recipes?! Plus, it’s one heck of a thoughtful gift for culinary enthusiasts.
One of the stand out Do512 favorites featured on the dinner menu is the Relleno de Picadillo. If you’ve never visited the restaurant before, this is a perfect introduction! A roasted poblano lightly battered and pan-fried, filled with shredded pork, almonds and raisins and served with a Jitomate sauce, this dish provides just the right amount of savory and spicy.
And of course, no Mexican meal is complete without enchiladas. Fonda San Miguel offers unique Enchiladas de Pato, enchiladas with shredded duck topped with a poblano-spinach sauce. And their Cochinita Pibil is the best you can find in Austin, a Yucatan specialty of pork baked in banana leaf. Their menu also features a variety of meats and fish cooked in the traditional Interior Mexican style.
After a scrumptious meal, there’s no better way to end it than with dessert and Fonda San Miguel, and y’all, they’ve got the BEST Tres Leches cake. Another stand out and Do512 favorite is the Crepas De Cajeta — crepes sauced with rich goat milk caramel and toasted almonds served with cajeta ice cream. If you are feeling adventurous, look no further! You won’t be disappointed.
Looking for a great Happy Hour? Fonda San Miguel has you covered! On Monday, Wednesday and Thursdays from 5pm-7pm in their beautiful bar & patio, indulge in $1 off house & frozen margaritas and half off select appetizers on their Antojitos menu. Some of their amazing “antojitos” (Spanish for snacks) that are half off include Angels on Horseback (three grilled shrimp with white cheese, jalapeño and wrapped in bacon, served with house-made escabeche), Calamares with chipotle mayonnaise, their traditional and amazing Ceviche las Brisas, Cordero (grilled baby lamp chops with chile pasilla salsa), and the Torre de Botanas is perfect for sharing with friends.
Tuesday night is certainly a stand out at Fonda San Miguel, so mark those calendars. Happy Hour is ALL NIGHT every Tuesday! $4.95 margaritas and select glasses of wine and half off select appetizers. No doubt this is one of the best in Austin! PRO TIP: Order up the Numero Uno Margarita before you even open the menu. A delectable concoction of T1 Reposado Tequila, Grand Marnier Centenaire, agave nectar and and freshly squeezed lime juice, this marg packs just the right amount of punch and is full of flavor.
One of the standouts at the restaurant, Fonda’s Sunday Hacienda Brunch Buffet is a feast for the soul! Featuring a sumptuous variety of dishes ranging from the more traditional to exciting takes on ancient recipes. Brunch is from 11 am to 2 pm on Sunday.
If you are looking for a true traditional and authentic Mexican dining experience, Fonda San Miguel is a restaurant that should not be overlooked. With 4o years of perfection behind them, the restaurants is one of Austin’s mainstays. Jump on over to Do512 for your chance to win a $25 gift card and have yourselves a feast!
– Contributed by Matthew LoCoco —